About to buy a Gen 3. What to look for?

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by Isaac Zachary, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    So it's decided. My wife and I are getting a used Gen 3. We set our criteria as this:
    • Must cost $10,000 or less
    • Must be 5 years old or newer (+2013).
    • Must have 75,000 miles or less
    • Must be a medium sized car
    • Must get at least 50mpg on the highway
    • Must be reliable
    • Must have good longevity
    • Must not have had any major damage or salvage title
    Well, that pretty much narrows it down to one car. A 2013 to 2015 Prius. We had thought about getting a Prius C since they are cheaper, but decided we didn't want such a small car. We had also contemplated getting a new Prius Prime with the $5,000 Colorado tax credit and the $4,500 federal tax credit, but decided that it was too much money for our budget even with the tax credits.

    Basically we need something that will do 30,000 miles per year and not break the bank. We already have a car that is that way, an old VW diesel that gets up to 60mpg on the highway (which is most of our driving) and has lasted some 600,000 or 700,000 miles and still runs like a charm. But it would be nice to have air bags and air conditioning.

    So I'm finding some Gen 3 Prii with the mileage and conditions I want and for the price I'm willing to pay. The problem is that they are all far away, like 600 miles or better. I plan on contacting some of these dealers and individuals and eventually heading out to see some of these cars, but can take all the advice I can get on buying a Prius. Ideally I would like to only have to travel that distance once and get a good Prius, but if it's got problems that are going to give me headaches I'm willing to take my business somewhere else. Mind you I've only been in a Gen 1 Prius, and that was only for about 5 minutes and I wasn't the one driving. What should I look for? What questions should I ask? Is there a way or any reason to check the battery health?
     
    Princer likes this.
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    90,890
    40,831
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    30k/year for how many years?
     
    Isaac Zachary likes this.
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,083
    30,144
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Our 2010 (Canadian Touring) with 76K kms, would not be of interest to you then: too old, and it sustained a significant hit a few years back, around $7K Candian worth of repairs (fully professionally repaired, new rear suspension). Waxed every 6 months, garage stored, basically in showroom condition outside and in, we're non-smokers, never eat/drink in the car.

    Oil level never budges between changes (every 6 months, around 4000~5000 kms), block heater installed when new and regularly used, all routine mainenance DIY'd, all the underpanels pristine, suspension compenents rust-proofed, intake manifold and complete EGR cleaning recently done, high-end oil catch can installed, transaxle fluid changed three times (overkill, I'll admit).

    And not for sale, lol.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make: you have to consider each car on it's merits. You might find a car that technically/superficially meets all your criteria, then find later find it's an abused lease-return, hastilly steam-cleaned, with a history of neglected maintenance.
     
    #3 Mendel Leisk, Jul 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
    Isaac Zachary and bisco like this.
  4. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    In my mind right now, at least 10 years. The more the merrier. I've had the Golf for 7 years and it would have been comfortable enough to keep for many years to come if it simply had air conditioning.

    If it were for sale I would seriously consider it. The Golf has some 700,000 miles, but I also was handed over a stack of receipts and repair orders that had been done on the car for it's whole life. 7 year later after I bought it and it still runs like a charm. I'd rather have a 500,000 mile Prius with proof it's been taken car of, treated well, maintained properly, instead of one with 100,000 miles and only a title.

    This is exactly what I want to avoid. The reason I set 5 years and 75,000 miles is if it's been abused, at least it has been limited to a smaller time frame than one with 10 years and 150,000 miles. I want a car that lasts.

    What would be the likelyhood that a new Prime for $28,000, plus $4,000 in taxes, minus $5,000 and $4,500 in tax credits, would work out to be a better dollar per mile deal than a used 75,000 mile Prius for $10,000 plus $1,100 in taxes for a frugal guy like me?
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    90,890
    40,831
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    for 3-400,000 miles, your best bet is a gen2 2008 or 9. but plan on a new battery, a/c compressor, brake actuator, maybe an engine or tranny, plus the regular stuff.

    prime is almost pointless for that kind of driving.
     
  6. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    I found some 08's and 09's with less than 50,000 miles for $7,000-$11,000. That's just a quick search. I'd probably look for one for around $7,000 and then get the battery and AC compressor and such replaced. Not sure that I want a car that needs a new engine and or transmission though. If that's the case I'll just stick with my old Golf. Thanks for the help, but I'm curious why those years? And what's wrong with the Prime?

    Also I forgot to mention it but it is very mountainous here. Not sure how that might affect my Prius choice.
     
  7. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    1,572
    1,082
    0
    Location:
    Franklin TN
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    The 2010-15 prii with the 1.8 won't make it to 400k miles without a rebuild. The battery and transmission (technicaly a power split device ) might make it. I've passed down my first prius to my brother and his wife, it's a 2005 with over 300k miles. Original suspension and about everything else. Amazing car! My brother and his wife love it, and just took it on a 22 hour road trip.

    My sisters 2010 (3rd gen) couldn't make it to 200k without drinking an ungodly amount of oil, and blowing a headgasket.

    If you read some threads here and install a oil catch can, and clean the egr system every 100k it might make it.. Who know! I've owned 3 prii, and now have a ford hybrid. I love them all, and I do any and all work I can get my hands on, with these hybrids. I drive about 40k a year!
     
    strawbrad, mjoo, bisco and 1 other person like this.
  8. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Thanks! That's a lot of help. Basically I want a car that's nice inside and out and mainly needs just preventitive maintenance. If I get such a car first thing I'm doing is replacing all the belts and hoses, flushing everything from transmission to brakes to radiator, all filter and oil changes and cleaning out whatever else like the EGR that needs it. And I also want to fix all little bits of rust and paint and wax the whole thing twice a year. Maybe even do an undercoat for the road salt after a good cleaning and rust removal. But I don't want major project.
     
    Aaron Vitolins likes this.
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    90,890
    40,831
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    we have lots of colorado members, it is not an issue.

    nothing wrong with prime, just not sure it will save you money over used, or how many plug in miles you will be able to avail yourself of.
    plus, the gen2 has full back seat, full hatch and spare tire, if those mean anything to you.

    as for gen 3, they don't have the high mileage credentials of the gen2.
     
    strawbrad and Isaac Zachary like this.
  10. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Thanks! That does tell me a lot. I guess I'll just skip right on over to the Gen 2 forum and start asking questions and doing research over there.
     
    bisco likes this.
  11. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    1,572
    1,082
    0
    Location:
    Franklin TN
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Well it sounds like whatever prius or other car you buy you're definitely going to get a nice long life out of it. Most people won't even bother doing all of that maintenance! Feel free to send me a message to ask me any questions, or just ask on this thread. :)
     
    Isaac Zachary likes this.
  12. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Aaron Vitolins likes this.
  13. Aaron Vitolins

    Aaron Vitolins Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2014
    1,572
    1,082
    0
    Location:
    Franklin TN
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Thats great! I was actually thinking the other day, if my current car is ever totaled or anything, I'll probably just buy a clean old gen 2, and put a brand new battery in it and call it good. Such great cars, I have such a soft spot in my heart for them, AND they are the easiest car I've ever worked on.
     
    Princer and Isaac Zachary like this.
  14. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    90,890
    40,831
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    my daughter has my old 2008 with 112,000 miles. will probably run forever.
     
    Isaac Zachary likes this.
  15. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Sold! That's what I want. Something that lasts, but when I have to work on it I don't have to take it to the specialist in Albuquerque.
     
  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    42,083
    30,144
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Isaac Zachary likes this.
  17. Isaac Zachary

    Isaac Zachary Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2018
    350
    136
    1
    Location:
    Gunnison, Colorado, USA
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Ya, I'm trying to avoid a neglected and abused car. I want to upgrade, not downgrade. Usually my story is I get a car for a few grand, it turns out to be a lemon, I pour thousands into it, and then get so fed up with the car I end up selling it, many times for less than what I bought for it originally. I got $12,000 cash, and don't want to spend a lot, but don't want a clunker either. If I can't get that I'll just use that money to paint the car I have and figure a way to put AC in it.
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  18. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    9,083
    5,770
    0
    Location:
    Undisclosed Location
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    To the original post.
    You have such a thorough, and demanding set of criteria, that there isn't too much to add. You seem to know exactly what you want, and what you are looking for. That's good.

    As far as finding vehicles that seem to fit this criteria but then discovering they exist quite a distance away? Don't know how you solve that problem unless of course you limit your search to a smaller and closer area, which may not be possible.

    If you do decide to take the plunge and make the long trip to check out one or more of these vehicles, the obvious advice is to try to find out as much as you can about the prospective vehicle before leaving home. I would ask for the VIN, and run a personal Carfax, I would ask the seller for as much information as possible. I'd ask to see photos of the interior and exterior. I'd avoid salvaged or rebuilt titles.
    If it passes all the checks?
    Well you are still relying on the honesty of the seller.
    But if the only vehicles you are finding that meet your criteria are 100's of miles away? There isn't too much else you can do. I guess my only other advice is that IF you travel a long distance to check one out, and once you see it, do NOT feel good about it? Then you have to be willing to pass on the deal, even if it does mean a long, long road trip results in not purchasing. You don't want to be trapped into a "must buy" situation just because you have traveled a long way.